How Sports Technology is Changing Sports


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Sports technology is revolutionising the sports industry

With the introduction of sports technology, many sports are experiencing improvements and undergoing transformations. Technology has also enhanced the unifying power of the sports industry. As new technology is adopted, the way people interact, engage, view and consume content is changing, and it is inevitable that the lucrative sports industry incorporates the latest in technologies.

In 2019, the global sports technology market was valued at US$ 24.14 billion. It is expected that by 2027, the market will be worth US$ 65.41 billion, with a CAGR of 13.5% during 2020–2027.

At the heart of any sport are the fans, who form an integral part of how organisations, teams and athletes brand themselves—to build revenue streams through them. Fan engagement has become a key priority for almost all sports businesses in the digital age.

Due to technology, the ability to capture real-time data in any sport has significantly improved, enabling fans to immediately access a wide range of data and other sport-related content. Data such as player performance, statistics, car performance, and all the latest and breaking news can now easily be accessed through apps, social media platforms or websites. Companies have also turned to virtual reality (VR) to give fans a more immersive experience from the comfort of their own homes. For example, this month, META announced the launch of their app called XTADIUM, which enables users to watch live games or pay-per-view events from the most popular organisations and sports.

To improve fan attendance in stadiums, stadium operators have introduced smart stadiums. Smart stadiums use technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) to create a more personalised, immersive and captivating experience for the fans in attendance. Smart stadiums give fans a seamless experience from start to finish—from purchasing tickets to travelling to the stadium, finding parking and their seats, checking bathroom availability, being immersed in the game and contactless purchasing of merchandise—all through an app on their mobile phones.

Football is an example of a sport where technology has had quite a significant impact. Technology has improved various aspects of the game, such as athletic performance and health, better camera viewing angles and broadcasting.

For example, in the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022, the official match ball that was introduced, known as Al-Rihla, (which means ‘journey’ in Arabic), is the most environmentally-friendly ball to date. It will also be the first ball to feature connected ball technology—a sensor in the centre of the ball transmits data 500 times per second, providing insight into the ball's movement. Combined with the player position data from tracking cameras on the roof of the stadiums, this real-time data helps contribute to FIFA's semi-automated offside technology and offers video assistant referees instant information to help them make the right decision.

In another technologically advanced sport, Formula 1 (F1), advanced sensors have allowed access to real-time information for teams and fans. For example, the 300 sensors that are fitted in an F1 car can transmit data such as speed, G-force and various other parameters that will allow the team to automatically detect any issues with the car that might affect the driver's performance.

This car-racing sport is also looking into machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in the production stages to improve and optimise the design and performance of the cars. As F1 introduced a budget cap last year for each team, machine learning and technology can significantly reduce production costs, allowing them to allocate their funds to other areas of improvement.

Technology has changed the way sports and games are played and viewed, from increasing fan engagement to reducing margins of error. With the future set to bring about more technological innovation, it is only expected that the sports industry will continue to evolve and enhance the experiences of players and audiences.

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